The world of literature has been enriched with an array of brilliant British writers who have left an indelible mark with their words. From classic literary works to contemporary masterpieces, these writers have made significant contributions that have captured the hearts and minds of readers around the globe.
They have been instrumental in shaping the literary canon, inspiring countless budding writers to follow in their footsteps. In this blog, we will delve into the lives and works of some of the most notable British authors, exploring their literary impact and their enduring legacies.
So join us on this journey, as we pay tribute to the famous British writers who have given us some of the finest works of literature.
William Shakespeare: Coined 1700 phrases and words we use today
William Shakespeare is known as one of the greatest playwrights in history, but did you know he invented over 1700 words that we still use today? From common words like “bedroom” and “manager” to more unusual ones like “insisture” and “wappened,” Shakespeare’s vocabulary was far-reaching.
In addition to these words, he is credited with coining 1700 phrases that have become part of the English language, such as “all that glitters is not gold.” He created new words by combining existing words, changing nouns into verbs, adding prefixes and suffixes, and more.
Shakespeare’s contribution to English literature and language extends far beyond his works, which include plays like Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet. Shakespeare’s legacy continues to shape our language and culture today, demonstrating his enduring influence over 400 years later.
Jane Austen: First female British writer to write about women
Jane Austen was not only a remarkable British writer but also the first female author to write specifically about women. Austen’s literary works brought to light the challenges and struggles that women, especially in the landed gentry, faced in their search for social and economic stability through marriage.
Her six major novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey, have set the tone for the modern novel. Her insight into the lives and manners of the English landed gentry during the early 19th century made her novels an instant classic, and they remain popular even today.
Austen’s writing style was witty, insightful, and realistic. She used irony and social commentary to explore the nuances of relationships, social norms, and societal expectations. Her work was groundbreaking, paving the way for other female writers to explore similar themes of gender, class, and society.
Through her works, Jane Austen has become an inspiration to many women writers, and her legacy as a literary genius continues to live on through generations.
Charles Dickens: Iconic Victorian writer, famous for memorable characters
Charles Dickens is an iconic Victorian writer known for creating memorable characters in his novels. Born in Portsmouth in 1812, Dickens’ father’s financial troubles led him to work in a factory at a young age. His experiences there influenced his later works which often dealt with the struggles of contemporary life for the working class.
Although his formal schooling ended at age 15, Dickens’ work as a parliamentary and newspaper reporter gave him a lasting affection for journalism which is reflected in his novels. The author’s most famous works include Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, both of which deal with themes of poverty and class struggle. Dickens also had a love for theatre and performed for Queen Victoria in 1851.
Today, his birthplace museum in Portsmouth is open for visitors to explore the life and work of this beloved author. Dickens’ writings continue to enchant readers all over the world and his legacy as one of the great forces in 19th-century literature remains intact.
Charlotte Brontë: Advocate of women’s rights through modest feminist stand
Charlotte Brontë was a renowned British author who lived in the 19th century. She was a strong advocate of women’s rights and stood up for their equality through her novels. Her most famous work, “Jane Eyre,” depicts a protagonist who is strong-willed and independent, breaking away from the traditional expectations of women in that era.
Charlotte Brontë’s feminist views were modest, but she utilized her writing to express her beliefs. She believed that women were entitled to the same opportunities and rights as men, which was a radical idea at the time.
Charlotte Brontë was ahead of her time, and her writing was appreciated by many who shared her views, including feminist movements of later times. Her work remains an inspiration for women’s rights advocates to this day.
George Eliot: Used pseudonym to be taken seriously as a novelist; famous for psychological insights
George Eliot was a well-known English novelist, poet, journalist, and translator who lived during the Victorian era. Born as Mary Ann Evans, she used a male pen name to be taken seriously as a female novelist.
Her works are known for their realism, psychological insight, and sense of place. She wrote seven novels, including Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, and Middlemarch, which is considered by many to be the greatest novel in the English language.
Eliot’s early life involved a strong evangelical upbringing, but she broke with her religious views after becoming acquainted with radical philosophers and thinkers. She lived with her partner, journalist George Henry Lewes, for many years, although they were unable to marry due to English law.
Eliot’s writing style continues to influence English literature today, and her works are celebrated for their depictions of social realism and psychological depth.
C.S. Lewis: Beloved author of children’s and religious literature
C.S. Lewis was a British author and scholar who had a profound impact on both children’s literature and religious apologetics. He is best known for his series of magical children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia, which have sold millions of copies and been adapted into various media forms.
But Lewis was also a prolific writer of Christian philosophy, including works such as Mere Christianity, which is widely regarded as a classic of Christian apologetics. Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, and grew up in a house filled with books, which sparked his love for reading and inspired his writing. He was a close friend of fellow author J.R.R.
Tolkien, and was part of a literary group called the Inklings. Lewis’s religious faith played a significant role in his life and work. He became an atheist in his adolescence, but later returned to Christianity through the influence of Tolkien and other friends. Lewis’s extensive body of work continues to inspire readers today.
George Orwell: Prolific journalist and writer, famous for political fable Animal Farm
George Orwell was an English novelist, essayist, and critic famous for his political fable, Animal Farm. Born as Eric Arthur Blair in an Indian family, Orwell won scholarships to two of England’s leading schools, Wellington and Eton, but did not attend university. Instead, he served as an assistant district superintendent in the Indian Imperial Police in Burma.
Orwell’s work is characterized by lucid prose, social criticism, and opposition to totalitarianism. Animal Farm is an allegorical novella that allegorically depicted Joseph Stalin’s betrayal of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The work is famous for its timeless relevance and its demonstration of the dangers of authoritarianism. The novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is another of Orwell’s well-known works, a profound anti-utopian novel that examines the dangers of totalitarian rule.
Orwell’s non-fiction works such as The Road to Wigan Pier document his experiences of working-class life in the industrial north of England while working as a journalist and a teacher. Orwell remains an influential figure in literature and his works, including his neologisms, are recognized as a part of the English language.
Geoffrey Chaucer: Father of English Literature, influential in developing Middle English
Geoffrey Chaucer, also known as the Father of English Literature, was a highly influential figure in developing Middle English. He was born in London in the early 1340s and came from a family of vintners and merchants in Ipswich.
Chaucer’s career saw him serve as a courtier, diplomat, civil servant, and bureaucrat, among other roles. His most famous work, The Canterbury Tales, is a collection of 24 stories told by a group of 30 pilgrims who travel to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Thomas Becket.
Chaucer’s wide variety of writing shows his mastery of different genres, styles, and tones, and his works often reflect an all-pervasive humor combined with serious and tolerant consideration of important philosophical questions.
Throughout his writing, Chaucer emerges as a poet of love, both earthly and divine, whose presentations range from lustful cuckoldry to spiritual union with God. He contributed significantly in the second half of the 14th century to the management of public affairs, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence English literature to this day.
William Wordsworth: Prominent figure in the Romantic literary movement
William Wordsworth was a highly regarded English Romantic poet who helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with his joint publication, Lyrical Ballads in 1798 with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His love and reverence for nature was showcased in his works, which went against the objective and analytical approach of an earlier nature-influenced poet, Alexander Pope.
Instead, Wordsworth took a more comprehensive yet affectionate approach to depict nature. He, along with other great poets of the Romantic age, glorified the subtleties and beauty of nature, emotions, and the past. Wordsworth is one of the greatest poets of all time and his magnum opus, The Prelude, is a semi-autobiographical poem that he revised and expanded numerous times.
He was Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death from pleurisy on 23 April 1850. His contributions to Romantic Poetry will forever be remembered as a key part of the literary movement in history.
Roald Dahl: One of the world’s greatest children’s authors, known for classics such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Roald Dahl is widely regarded as one of the greatest children’s authors of all time. With over 300 million copies sold worldwide, his books – including James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and The Witches – have captured the imaginations of generations of young readers.
Dahl’s stories are known for their darkly comic, often macabre tone, featuring villainous adult characters who threaten the plucky child protagonists. However, they also champion kindness and warmth, with underlying messages of compassion and empathy for others.
Perhaps his best-known work, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, has been adapted into both a beloved 1971 film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and a 2005 adaptation. In addition to his children’s books, Dahl wrote several scripts for movies and published an autobiography, Boy: Tales of Childhood, in 1984. Though he passed away in 1990, Dahl remains one of the most popular and beloved authors of all time.